5 Lessons Learned From a Month of Poetry

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It’s an interesting thing, a month long commitment to writing one poem each day. I think, like comedy, that poetry is a uniquely human exercise. It affords the opportunity to reflect on the parts of our thoughts that our conscious minds are reluctant, or perhaps unable, to face. It is a cathartic and revealing endeavor which teaches you a lot about yourself. I’ve learned more than I thought I would from writing a month of poetry, and I wanted to share some of that with all of you.

1. Being Accountable to Yourself is Difficult – It was a struggle to motivate myself to write a complete poem each day. I often wanted to just copy previously un-posted work or write something quick and easy. But, I didn’t. I often found that the motivation, though, wasn’t my own self. It was easier to be accountable when I posted the poems because the people reading them expected to see another one the next day. Incidentally, it seems to be easier to be accountable to others than to oneself. I suppose that why people hire personal trainers and the like. You can rationalize all manner of excuses to yourself, but those rationalizations fall on deaf ears when presented to somebody else. They just don’t work.

2. I Don’t Know Happiness – I tried, many times, to write poetry that was happy and optimistic, and it proved to be an incredibly difficult task. I know the feeling of being happy. I am a happy person, and I live a happy life, but truthfully, I don’t understand happiness on a fundamental emotional level like I understand sadness, pain, and uncertainty. The deepest parts of my heart and mind, I’ve found, cannot communicate happiness on its most basic level. I am consciously aware of the feeling, but I lack an unconscious understanding of it.

3. I Don’t Like Places – It’s difficult to write about places. Many of my poems lack defined settings and instead contain snapshots of a place which could really exist anywhere. The images in my mind lack context. They are scenes floating in the emptiness of space. The memories of my life exist much the same way. I remember my childhood through emotions which are attached to context-less images. Those emotions color the amorphous settings in my thoughts, transforming them into untethered pieces of a broken world.

4. I’m Fascinated by the Darkness – I’m fascinated by the darkest parts of humanity. I don’t much care for normalcy, for the monotony of the everyday. I don’t care for the faces people put on so they can show themselves in public. I care for our deepest and most sinister desires, for those feelings we are afraid to share with other people. I want to understand the feelings that can motivate a person to commit the worst acts. I want to know the grip of those emotions and find out where they come from.

5. I Can Accomplish a Lot – As challenging as this exercise was, I did meet the challenge. Granted, not every poem was a gem, but they seemed to turn out well for the most part. It felt good to commit to something and follow through. This could definitely translate to other parts of my life and future commitments I decide to make. I’m proud of myself for making it through without missing a day, and it has taught me that I’m capable of doing what I set my mind to, though I suppose some part of me already knew that.

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